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SARTRE Project Concludes, Reveals Blissful Future of Car Travel

In the (hopefully not too distant) future, we'll all be driving down the highway like this guy: reading a newspaper with our eyes being covered up. It'll be possible thanks to Volvo and six other European partners, who just concluded the SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project: it's not autonomous cars, not yet, but it's a lot closer to reality.

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Video Friday: Roomba Turns 10!

This week, the iRobot Roomba celebrated its 10th birthday. Ten years of autonomous vacuuming, and we're confident that there's even more amazingness ahead. Why are we confident? Just look at those cakes, man! That's enough to instill anyone with confidence. And hunger. Okay, mostly hunger. We have video of the cakes in action (yes, there is action), plus lots more, for this week's Video Friday.

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Grishin Invests $250,000 in Double Robotics’ Telepresence Platform

Looks like Double Robotics and their elegantly simple iPad-based telepresence platform has caught the eye of Grishin Robotics, that new robocentric investment firm looking for ways to blow $25 million on robotics startups. Double is getting a quarter million bucks to help them scale up their manufacturing in exchange for, um, something that neither party seems to want to mention, but we've got the rest of the details for you after the jump.

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MakerBot Unveils New Replicator 3D Printer

We’ve got great news. Not only did MakerBot release two new printers on Wednesday, the Replicator 2 and the Replicator 2X, but CEO Bre Pettis thinks IEEE members are “basically the smartest people in the world.”

The Replicator 2 has 100 micron layer resolution, a larger print area for objects up to 410 cubic inches, can print multiple objects simultaneously, and even arrives fully assembled. And don't forget, MakerBot's PLA smells good, Pettis says.

In addition, MakerBot released an updated software suite, MakerWare, and opened up a store in Manhattan, complete with printers, a giant marble run, and gumball machines filled with Maker-made toys. 

Watch Georgia Tech's Musical Robots Evolve Into Shimi the Robot DJ

It's always fun when we get to follow a robot as it evolves in a research lab somewhere and then finally makes it out into The Real World.™ Shimi, who we first met at Google I/O back in June, has a lineage at Georgia Tech stretching back many years, so I thought it would be kind of cool to take a look at some of the research that went in to making this robotic DJ (which, by the way, is now on Kickstarter).

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Infographic: Robots & Automation in U.S. Manufacturing

Kuka Robotics put together this nifty infographic describing how manufacturing robots aren't necessarily evil job stealin' machines of... evil. It's especially timely what with yesterday's big news about a certain robotics company that wants to use robots to make domestic manufacturing more cost effective and efficient, although Rethink is tackling things much differently than big boys like Kuka.

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Rethink Robotics Announces Baxter Robot Helper, We Go Hands-On in Boston

Photo: David Yellen for IEEE Spectrum

So, you remember how we took that trip to Boston back in June to see iRobot? Well, it wasn't really to see iRobot, as awesome as that was. Really, it was to see Rethink Robotics, meet Rodney Brooks, and find out what they'd been working on so secretly all this time. So yes, we've known all about it since June but were sworn to secrecy, until just this second: today, right now, Rethink Robotics is announcing Baxter, a dual-armed robot factory helper robot designed to take over simple tasks for humans. It's completely safe to work around, a cinch to program with absolutely zero training, and most importantly, it only costs $22,000, making it eminently affordable for even small businesses.

Rethink Robotics and Baxter will be the cover story for the October issue of IEEE Spectrum magazine, but you can read our entire article right now on the Spectrum website. Let us know what you think, and feel free to post questions! We spent over six hours at Rethink interviewing all kinds of different people and getting demos of Baxter, and we couldn't possibly stuff all of that information into just one article, so we're happy to expand on whatever you're most interested in.

Check out our feature article on Rethink and Baxter here.

iRobot Sweeps Up Evolution Robotics for $74 Million

iRobot just sent out a press release announcing its acquisition of Evolution Robotics, maker of the Mint swifferbot, for $74 million in cash. We literally just got this, and there's going to be a conference call tomorrow morning, but we'll briefly talk about what we know right now.

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Your Kid Wants a Thymio II Education Robot

How much robot can you get for a hundred bucks? Not much: $100 is about a quarter of a Roomba. A quarter of a cheap Roomba. Or, you can spend it on an open source education robot from Switzerland that will help your kids to learn how to do things besides not vacuuming the floor.

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Video Friday: Telepresence Tallness, Twisty Tentacles, and Robot on Robot Violence

Hey, guess what? It's robot season! I know, I know, around here it's always robot season. But this next month is absolutely positively packed with robot news and events, from major (major) new product releases that we can't tell you about yet to big events ranging from RoboBusiness in Pittsburgh to Combots in San Francisco to IROS in Portugal.

Of course, none of that stuff has happened yet, but that's not stopping Video Friday from being full of, you know, videos. We've got space robots, paper robots, some lovely robot films, and even some robotic tentacles. So let's get kraken!

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IEEE Spectrum's award-winning robotics blog, featuring news, articles, and videos on robots, humanoids, drones, automation, artificial intelligence, and more.
Contact us:

Erico Guizzo
Senior Writer
Evan Ackerman
Jason Falconer
Angelica Lim

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